Do the Dodgers Have a New Ace?

When I wrote the title, I wondered if I was really serious… and let me assure you, I am!  Before this season started, I wrote that Ross Stripling just needed to accept that he’s a reliever… and even if he was a starter, he would never be any more than a #5 or #6.  Boy, was I wrong! Dead wrong! Ross never bought into accepting he was a reliever and we are all better for it.  We saw glimpses of Ross Stripling early on that led us to believe he could be a starter.  In the first game of his rookie season, he was (rightfully) removed from a no-hitter after 7.1 innings and with 100 pitches thrown.

He had decent stuff, but not even one great pitch.  However, he kept working on his game and at 28 years-old Ross Stripling has evolved and elevated his game until he is one of the Top Starters in the NL. DeGrom, Scherzer, Stripling… all three are at the top right now, but Ross is growing into an Ace.  Who would have thought?  When he was moved to a starter’s role out of necessity, he improved all four of his pitches, started throwing his curve harder (which gives a sharper break) and developed a cutter.  All of his pitches are above average, but with his control and expertise, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

The Top Starting Pitchers in MLB:

  1. Jacob DeGrom – 1.55 ERA
  2. Justin Verlander – 1.61 ERA
  3. Chicken Strip Stripling – 1.76 ERA

Ross is just two inning short of qualifying for the ERA title.  To qualify, a player has to have pitched at least one inning for every game their team has played.  The Dodgers have played 68 games (they are now 36-32) and Ross has pitched 66.1 innings, so after his next start, he should be among the league leaders.

It’s understood that Clayton Kershaw is likely in decline.  We don’t know how steep the decline is, but before the season is over, this could be the playoff rotation:

  1. Stripling
  2. Kershaw
  3. Buehler
  4. Hill

Bullpen:  Wood, Maeda, Ryu, Urias,  Alexander, Stewart, Fields, Garcia, Jansen.

This could be a changing of the guard.  If Kershaw does not opt out, this could be the rotation next year:

  1. Stripling
  2. Buehler
  3. Kershaw
  4. Urias
  5. Hill

Some of you will say “Well, he has to do it for a while before I call him and Ace.”  OK, but it’s pretty obvious to me that he is a real “pitcher” who is now “toying” with hitters.  He passes the eye and smell test and with each passing game, Chicken Strip is moving closer to being the Dodgers’ Ace.

Now… watch Clayton come back with a vengeance!



Well Chicken Strip was not the only outstanding pitcher going for the organization last night.  Manny Banuelos, Devin Smeltzer, and Dustin May were superlative.  The affiliates won 5 out of 7 games.


OKC – 6-1 Win over Salt Lake Bees (Angels)


Manny Banuelos started and went 6.0 scoreless 1 hit innings to win his 7thgame in 10 decisions.  He did have 3 walks to go with his 6 K’s.  Logan Andrusek, Chad Girodo, Josh Sborz, and Brian Schlitter finished the game with only Schlitter touched up for a meaningless run in the 9th.  The offense registered 13 hits in the victory.  Henry Ramos went 2-5 with his 13thdouble and 3rdtriple, Alex Verdugo and Rob Segedin each went 2-3, Rocky Gale went 2 -4 with his 5thdouble and 2ndtriple, and Edwin Rios went 2-4 with his 6thdouble.  Kyle Garlick added his 7thdouble on the season.


Tulsa – 3-1 Win over Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)


Devin Smeltzer started and pitched 7 strong shutout innings. This was Devin’s second consecutive 7 inning outing with both resulting in a win, giving him 3 on the year.  He has now pitched at least 5 innings in each of his last 6 starts.  Billy Moran gave up an unearned run in the 8thand Corey Copping got the final 2 outs to record his 2ndsave on the season.  There were no multi hits in the game for the Drillers, but Will Smith hit his 7thHR on the year, with Keibert Ruiz hitting his 7thdouble and Jacob Scavuzzo adding his 6thdouble.


RC – 3-0 Win over Inland Empire 66ers (Angels)


The Quakes and the 66ers went into the 10thknotted in a scoreless tie.  The Quakes were first up, and with a runner starting out at 2nd, Cody Thomas and Saige Jenco drew walks to load the bases for Rylan Bannon.  Bannon promptly hit a bases emptying triple for the eventual 3-0 victory.  Now all that needed to be completed was getting out of the 10thwith that runner starting out at 2nd.  No problem…Zach Pop retired his three hitters with one K to complete his 4thsave on 2018.  Marshall Kasowski and Michael Boyle were outstanding in relief as well, with Boyle earning his 1stwin on the season.


Great Lakes – 5-2 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)


There was not much positive in the pitching for the Loons.  Offensively Brandon Montgomery went 2-4 with his 5thHR.  3B Brock Carpenter made his 2018 debut and went 2-4 with a double.  C Darrell Miller and SS Moises Perez each had a 2-4 night.


Ogden – 4-2 Loss to Idaho Falls Chukars (Royals)


In a game that I was really looking forward to, the game could not have started out better.  Last year’s #11 draft pick SS Jacob Amaya lined a 2-0 single into CF, with RF Kevin Aponte following that with a single of his own.  After a 1 out double steal and a strike out, LF Felix Osorio stroked a 2 out 2 run single staking the Raptors to a 2-0 lead.  But that is where it all ended for the Raptors.  Jose Chacin started and pitched 4 innings giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 9 hits, 0 walks, and 3 K’s.  Devin Hemmerich followed with 3.0 IP, allowing 1 run on 2 hits, 0 walks and 2 K’s.  Jeremiah Muhammad pitched 1 inning allowing 1 run on 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1K.  The Raptors were only able to get 2 more singles in their final 8 innings.


DSL Dodgers Guerrero – 7-4 Win over DSL Indians


CF Edwin Mateo 3-5

SS Eddys Leonard 3-5 with a double (2)

DH Luis Yan – 2-5 with his 1stdouble


DSL Dodgers Robinson – 6-4 Win over DSL Athletics


DH Yunior Garcia 2-4 with aa 3 run HR (1)


This article has 19 Comments

  1. Strip will need to continue to pitch well if we’re going to put him in the “Ace” discussion but I do indeed like what I see. He looks to be in complete control of the game and the “real deal.” Might Alex Wood be part of a trade package to bring some BP or offense help?

    Lets push Bumgarner around tonight and by the AS break be about 12 games over.500. I had my doubts this team had the grit and talent to overcome such a bad start but I’m now starting to believe. Imagine getting a healthy and effective Kershaw, Ryu, Hill, Koehler, Urias back. This just might be the year we acquire some significant talent to put us over the hump. Machado anyone?

  2. It would be a nice story Mark, look no further then Alex Wood, a year younger and went 16-3 last year, an All-Star, 2.72 ERA and now we have 1-5, 4.43 ERA, we can’t anoint Ross just yet!

  3. I thought that Strip would be a good pitcher, but I was inclined to place him in the bullpen with my favorite, Alex Wood, to form a R-L version of Andrew Miller, and wrote about it last year. Yes that was laughed at by many, and then Wood became an AS and had a career year in 2017, and now Strip is doing the same thing this year. Just as I was not inclined to place Wood in the elite Ace category last year, I am not ready to adorn Strip with the status of Ace…just yet. There is no doubt he is having a tremendous run.
    Yesterday Dodgerrick questioned whether anybody truly believed the starting pitching would hold up, and whether there is a true bridge to Jansen. It was a good question, and logically had merit. But baseball is not always logical. Otherwise how do you figure the Dodgers would have a better record with Kershaw on the DL? But Hill comes back next week and Kershaw and Buehler not far behind. When they do return, that would make a rotation of Kershaw, Buehler, Stripling, Hill, and Maeda or Wood, with the non-starter going into the pen. When Ryu returns after the AS break that probably puts both Wood and Maeda in the pen. With that rotation, Wood and Maeda immediately become the bridge to Jansen, and the Dodger pitching staff goes to the top for the 2nd half. That FAZ depth has allowed the team to continue to compete and contend, and will allow them to have 7 starters on the 25 man with 2 of them in the pen for the dog days of summer, knowing the starters will need an extra day of rest in the summer. And then Urias comes back in August. And Ferguson and probably Santana in September. I did not mention Tom Koehler because I have no idea what to expect. But what if he is another Blanton and Morrow. I am not saying he will be, but WHAT IF….
    While I love fantasy, FAZ does not. deGrom coming to the Dodgers is fantasy, and while I would overpay, FAZ will not. Houston will put together a package that FAZ will not match to get Kelvin Herrera out of KC. I think the Yankees would love to get another lefty in the rotation, and Cole Hamels is the logical pitcher. Hamels could become this year’s version of Verlander. FAZ cannot and will not try to outbid the Yankees for Hamels. The one rumor I continue to hear floated around for the Dodgers is J.A. Happ. I do not think this is a logical choice as he is a LHSP and the Dodgers do not need another LHSP for the NL West gauntlet in September. I think the Dodgers will talk with the O’s about Machado, but the Braves and Phillies will have to be outbid, and that really is not feasible for the Dodgers. If the Dodgers want Machado, it will need to be next offseason by outbidding everyone else when he becomes a FA. I think the Dodgers will talk to the O’s about Britton. I think FAZ should talk to the Royals about Whit Merrifield. They could and probably should talk to the Reds about Scooter Gennett, but he is at the apex of his value.
    If the Dodgers cannot get Gennett or Merrifield at a reasonable cost, I would expect them to stand pat and make a run with what they started the year with.

    1. AC

      Is it a good thing that the front office won’t give up enough like the Astros did last year to get Verlander, and will do again this year to get Herrera, and is the luxury tax the reason that you think the front office won’t go after Herrera, or is it just their history of not giving up enough, to get top talent?

      1. June 16, 2018 at 1:07 pm Edit
        I do think the luxury tax had a lot to do with Verlander, and it would with Hamels. But a prorated $8M for Herrera would not be a factor. Right or wrong, FAZ believes in their farm system, and do not want to deal from it. Do you give up a Verdugo at the start of his career for a rental even if he is as good as Herrera? KC is going to want a Chapman type return. By the AS break, the Dodgers will have 7 starters on the 25 man with Wood and Maeda in the pen, and Urias on his way. As good as Herrera is, I do not think FAZ believes the Dodgers would be better with Herrera than they would be with Wood and Maeda in the pen. I do think the Dodgers will inquire about Britton. I would love to see Zach Britton in the playoffs. But again he is a rental, and questionable.

        1. Thanks AC!

          I sounds like you think Britton would make more, of a difference.

          But it is hard to not be afraid, with his injury issues, but those injury issues, might also make him a little cheaper, by baseball standard’s today.

    2. Stripling is having an epic meeting of maturity. Of both mind and body. His mind has given him the plan and strategy and his body,or athletic ability, has given him the pitches to make it happen. What sticks out for me is his confidence level is off the chart. He looks like a young man who knows that whatever it is…he’s got it. An ace? Well, yes and no. Koufax or Bob Gibson No. But an above average pitcher nonetheless. Right now he has fantastic command of a bunch of great pitches. Will he keep it up for a while. Hopefully a long while. Something in his attitude tells me he will. And you cannot compare Woody with Strip. Woody has the ugliest delivery of any pitcher I can think of. Not conducive to longevity or endurance. Strips is an economy of physical motion and yes, beauty.

  4. I’d be happy with Kershaw coming back and just eating some innings. Blasphemy…I know.

  5. By the end of last year stripling had completely lost his confidence. He was not good starting or relieving he was fortunate to make the playoff roster and unfortunate for us the way he pitched. But what was the alternative Brandon McCarthy sorry I digress. However, now he has added and improved his arsenal and pitching with confidence and great command. He wants to be in the rotation and should be at this point. Whether he is an ace just try to trade him and see what his value is….well there is your answer. If he can pitch like this over the long haul he will stay in the rotation probably as a 3 or 4 behind Buehler, Kershaw (if healthy), and ryu, hill. If healthy, ryu is capable of a huge playoff performance but unlikely of course. Wood on the other hand came out last year with a dominant fastball. So what happened? Even at the end of post season most would have preferred he start over yu and to a lesser extent Kershaw in game 7. I think wood is a tremendous competitor but his stuff has little margin for error. With great command and fully healthy he has the grit for the playoffs. The dodgers are much better equipped with playoff starting pitching than they were in the faz early years of Anderson, McCarthy, etc. you have to have players get you to the playoffs and then you need to play the hot hand. I hope there is a hot hand at that point. It always amazed me how bill parcels the great football coach would go into the super bowl and suddenly start somebody at running back who come out of nowhere and you would say what!! So we got to get to the playoffs but who knows who that hot hand will be but maybe stripling, he doesn’t need to be an ace now but be hot in the playoffs.

  6. 2 things stand out to me with Stripling: He spoke about not putting pitches in a hitters ‘happy zone’ where it’s pulled at 100 mph exit velocity. He knows where he can throw strikes and not get hard contact. He also has superb command, watch the catchers glove and Strip is always right around it. Look at his 4 walks as a starter and his K rate. He also pitches out of trouble very well. Ace? Not yet but he has really turned a corner this year.

    Kike has killed MadBum in the past, and Puig has seen a lot of him. Forsythe hits .071 off him in a decent sample size, Muncy has never faced him, roll the dice Doc! Crawford and Posey have hit well off Wood in the past. I see people on another site saying Belt will play today: he is still on the DL recovering from an appendectomy. They activated a AAA pitcher instead when placing Longoria on the DL.

    I don’t see how the Dodgers make a major move without knowing the health of players they already have. So many guys are close to returning and JT is not himself yet. Logan is quietly starting to hit and Utley almost ready. I still say trade Joc and sell high or see if he can hit LHP.

    1. Vegas

      I was watching the MLB Channel, when they looked in at the Giants last game, against the Marlins, and they said then, that Belt was ready to come off the DL, but that was before the game went to 16 innings.

      And I thought they made that move about Longoria, and the fresh pitcher from AAA, last night.

      1. You were right MJ, they activated and started him tonight. Giants site said he had 5 AB’s in an intrasquad game and that is all for a rehab. He sits against a lot of lefties so may look rusty tonight.

  7. Stripling, as the Ace of the Dodger staff? maybe, but I think I’ll wait and see how the rest of the season plays out before the Ace status is given to him.

  8. You have just been Kike’ed, Madison, which by the way, is a girl’s name.

    Just sayin’

  9. Kiké stay hot! The dodgers have to keep Kiké just for Bumgarner. Taylor ice cold again, put Muncy at second and lead him off. Taylor drops down Forsythe out. That looks like a win win. Wood has done well but don’t let him go too long! Go blue!

  10. Great win for the Dodgers. Here are a few observations;
    1 – The Dodgers’ defense was a real difference maker tonight. Almost everyone on the field made a great play;
    2 – Fields looked unhittable;
    3 – Kike owns Bum;
    4 – Kemp is locked in;
    5 – Wood was sure not throwing hard. He nibbles too much as a result;
    6 – Alexander can’t throw strikes;
    7 – Jansen still doesn’t look right to me;
    8 – Bellinger is still owned by the low inside breaking ball;
    9 – Belly and Taylor swing at stuff out of the strike zone too often
    10 – Giants don’t have many guys who can hit;
    11 – Bum can’t throw his fastball yet.

    Let’s go for the sweep!

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